A house doesn’t make a home…
Jane Moir
By Jane Moir

November 2017

A house doesn’t make a home…

… is what my parents used to tell me – and they should know having clocked up over forty moves in their seventy-one years of marriage.  During their army life, constant postings meant new homes in far flung exotic places and there were 13 house moves during the time that I lived at home. Their fondly remembered dwellings included a Nissen hut, (incredibly noisy when it rained) and a thatched bungalow surrounded by trenches ready to ward off army ants on the march.

My own earliest memories of removals were being told not to touch the tea chests as they were bound with fairly lethal metal strips around the edges, guaranteed to take a large slice or worse out of toddler fingers. Nowadays, tea chests have been replaced by rather safer cardboard boxes but there was something almost romantic and mysterious about the wooden chests with the names of far off places stamped on them, and occasionally a scattering of tea leaves left in the bottom.  

I have learned through my own nomadic life that wherever the location, whatever the condition of the property, it is having the vision to make it your own home that is important, and indeed in every house move that we made, the new property very quickly became home from home.

Here at Symonds & Sampson, we are very experienced in selling a wide range of houses from the stunningly sublime to the truly shocking. The programme ‘Changing Rooms’ (now not seen on our screens for a few years, mercifully), had a lot to answer for when home owners having been ‘inspired’ by the programme went on to decorate their properties in some fairly lurid paints and wallpapers. Fortunately that era has passed and many properties are now decked out in floor to ceiling neutrals or the mellow shades of Farrow and Ball country colours.

It is evident that many people viewing a potential new home will walk through its front door and either love it or loathe it within the first few minutes. If it is the latter, sometimes it can be the décor that is off-putting, large furniture may make the rooms look small, the distraction of chaotic clutter will make it difficult to take an objective view at all, or the garden may be a complete tip. Or it may just be very different to the viewer’s expectations…

However, most serious potential buyers will have already done their homework and put a big tick in the other requisite boxes – location, good schools, convenience for work and dog walks etc.  So once through the front door it’s fantastic if you fall in love at first sight, but if it is not quite all that you hoped for what can you do?

What is important is how you can transform this property into your cosy family home.

Décor? – Easily changed with a paintbrush or wallpaper. Furniture? – think how you would arrange yours in the space. Imagine your pictures and photos on the walls and shelves. Garden? It may currently be completely full of toddlers’ outdoor paraphernalia, but imagine it as a blank space, and then with your planting ideas and your garden furniture it could become your quiet haven.

When we accompany viewings to a property, we don’t just throw open the door and announce ‘kitchen’ in a bored voice – we want to help you discover how this house would work for you. We can make suggestions based on your lifestyle requirements, we can give you ideas on what could be created, or for something more structural like building modifications or an extension, we have in- house building designers, surveyors and planning experts on hand to advise you.

Some of our buyers often have a pre-conceived idea of what they want to purchase and then end up buying something completely different because they can visualise how it could actually work for them with some cosmetic or structural adjustments. We are always delighted to be invited back to our buyers’ homes after they have been totally transformed and we love to see the results of the creative process that has produced their dream home – it gives us inspiration when helping other purchasers find theirs.

So while the opportunities for creating your home out of a WW2 Nissen hut are pretty rare these days (although on the internet some conversions have been done…), the opportunities for creating your home out of a house are endless. A house and a home, in my humble opinion, are two different concepts. A house is just the roof and walls providing the shelter for you and yours. A home is what the house becomes when you and yours have adapted the space to your own personal taste with all your possessions and memories arranged around you. In conclusion, keep an open mind when your property searches do not always take you across the threshold of your dream home.

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